Is your alcohol addiction affecting your kids?
You may think your alcohol addiction is only harming yourself – but you’re wrong. Your addiction to alcohol may be increasing the risk that your children will develop their own alcohol addiction as adults.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, children of alcoholics (COAs) are between four and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics than children who have no close relatives who are addicted to alcohol. COAs are also at higher risk for developing drinking problems more quickly and starting drinking at a young age.
An increased risk of alcohol addiction isn’t the only effect your alcoholism may have on your children. COAs often experience many of the following when they have one or more parents who are alcoholics:
- Compulsive disorders, such as gambling addictions
- Behavioral problems
- Abuse or neglect
- Domestic violence
- Increased risk of drug use
- Higher risk of accidents and injuries
- Problems in school
- Anxiety and depression
- Higher levels of stress
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) claims that nearly 11 percent of children in the United States live with at least one parent who needs treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction. One quarter of children younger than 18 live in homes where they deal with alcohol abuse or alcoholism on a daily basis, according to SAMHSA.
As a result, COAs may grow up feeling angry, confused and insecure. They may believe they are the reason for their parent’s drinking and try to control or withdraw from the situation to make it more tolerable.
But you know your drinking problem isn’t your child’s fault, and that there is something you can do to reduce the risk of your children battling the same addiction as you.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
It’s never easy admitting you have a problem, or that your actions are negatively impact the people you care most about. Once you come to the realization that you need to end your addiction for your children as much as for yourself, it may be easier for you to seek needed treatment.
There are many types of alcohol addiction treatment available. You just need to find the one that works best for you and your family. Your options include outpatient addiction treatment, which allows you to live at home, and residential addiction treatment, which requires you to live at a residential treatment center for addiction for several months. Support groups and online support is also available, depending on your treatment plan.
Because you have children, it will be important to get your family involved in your recovery. Find a program that includes family therapy so your entire family can be involved in the healing process and support your recovery in the long term. Most treatment centers offer family group therapy or weekend seminars.
It is normal to feel some guilt about how your alcohol addiction has affected your children. But your addiction is treatable, and you can learn to create a happy and healthy environment for your children that allows them to grow up without alcohol abuse.